AstraZeneca lands deals for COVID-19 vaccine development, production

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Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca announced Thursday that it had finalized a deal with the Trump administration to develop, produce and distribute a vaccine that officials hope will provide immunity against the coronavirus.

The company announced in a press release that it had secured an agreement worth more than $1 billion to ensure that around 300 million doses of the vaccine will be produced for the U.S.

The possible vaccine, which was developed by scientists at Oxford University, is already licensed to AstraZeneca. Whether it will be effective against the coronavirus is unclear, due to uncertainty around what causes immunity to the disease, Reuters noted.

“This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed’s work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, according to Reuters and The Associated Press.

The company’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, pledged to have the vaccine ready for wide distribution as quickly as possible.

“We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available,” he said. “We would like to thank the US and UK governments for their substantial support to accelerate the development and production of the vaccine.”

“AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk,” the company added in its news release.

Updated at 8:10 a.m.

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